Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Working at The Scrap Exchange is not simply a job for marketing coordinator and reuse artist Ruth Warren. It’s a chance to live a dream and indulge a passion for reuse that she learned as a child. In the next Green Gallery exhibit at The Scrap Exchange, Warren presents a retrospective of reuse spanning eight decades by examining the lives of the two people that influenced her the most – her parents. “My parents are no longer with me, but thanks to The Scrap Exchange I can celebrate their spirit of utilitarian and creative reuse every day. The Scrap Exchange feels like home and reconnects me with core values that I learned in childhood.”
Warren collaborated with two of her siblings, Lee Stadler and Lynne Mann, to create an exhibit that focuses on the life of their parents Raymond and Leola Glover. The exhibit examines how the couple incorporated concepts of thrift and reuse throughout their lives, and the impact that lifestyle had on their children and extended family.
“My parents both grew up with little money, and during the Depression they used the concepts of reuse as a means of economic and physical survival. They passed those skills onto their children. I was making Christmas ornaments from bottle caps and magazine pictures when I was a preschooler. My father salvaged wood and nails from old pig pen lumber to use while building the house I grew up in. My mother saved eggshells, matchboxes and used greeting cards to make intricate 3-dimensional diorama ornaments. My childhood paper dolls were cut from magazines and Sears Catalogs. When my sister and I played “grocery store”, we used real empty food boxes instead of imitation plastic ones. Is it any wonder that I developed into an artist who simply adores the ‘art of reuse’?”
Sisters Mann and Stadler also have strong memories of everyday reuse. Mann recalls, “One thing I remember vividly was Mom making lye soap by rendering down animal fat saved in a container from every meal. Another memory was Daddy saving every vegetable seed possible from his vegetable gardens – carefully spreading them out to dry for the next year’s crops and then storing them in mason jars, envelopes, or whatever was handy.”
Stadler has equally vivid memories. She reminisces, “I learned a great lesson from both my parents. Things will last forever if you take care of them. To this day, we can still take out Mom’s 1960s aluminum Christmas tree (from the original box) and remove all the limbs from their brown paper sleeves to set it up. Not one sleeve is torn or missing! And Daddy never put a shovel or hoe away dirty. He took care of his tools and machines. Things were bought with the intention of using them till every scrap of use was exhausted. Disposable just wasn’t in their vocabulary.”
The three siblings are bringing a wide variety of personal memorabilia to the exhibit, each piece serving as a detailed example of their parents’ life of thrifty reuse. Collections include boxes and small furniture handcrafted from salvaged wood, well-worn walking canes whittled from tree branches, family scrap quilts, World War II ration books, 1940s photos of a 6’x12’ structure that was “home” to Raymond, Leola and their three oldest children, trinket boxes made from greeting cards, Christmas ornaments created from everyday discards, and much more.
“A Legacy of Thrift” opens Friday, June 15, with a reception from 6-9pm. Opening night festivities will include free make-and-take activities, refreshments, PBR beer and live music by pianist Ronnie Capps. “A Legacy of Thrift” runs from June 15 through July 14.